Mikaela Shiffrin takes silver in alpine combined as Lindsey Vonn skies off

Bryan Armen Graham at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre in Pyeongchang
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Michelle Gisin of Switzerland, Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States and Wendy Holdener of Switzerland celebrate on the podium after the alpine combined.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images</span>
Michelle Gisin of Switzerland, Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States and Wendy Holdener of Switzerland celebrate on the podium after the alpine combined. Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Mikaela Shiffrin added another Olympic medal to her growing haul with a silver in Thursday’s women’s alpine combined as Lindsey Vonn, who led the field after the morning’s downhill portion, made an early mistake in the afternoon slalom and skied out near the top of the course in what’s likely the final race of a storied Winter Games career.

Switzerland’s Michelle Gizin won the gold, following the third-fastest downhill with the fourth-fastest slalom for a combined time of 2 min 20.90 sec, overtaking the lead briefly held by Shiffrin, who finished 0.97 seconds off the pace. Another Swiss skier, Wendy Holdener, earned the bronze.

Shiffrin’s silver medal follows her gold in last week’s giant slalom, making her the first American woman in 66 years to win at least a gold and a silver in alpine skiing at a single Olympics. Her career total stands at three after the Sochi Games, where the American became the youngest ever Olympic slalom champion.

“It feels good,” Shiffrin said. “It’s a nice way to end the Olympics. I started off with a bang and ending with a medal on the podium is really cool.

“I came into these Olympics knowing I could be a medal threat in multiple disciplines. I didn’t even know how many I would ski. After the gold in the giant slalom, I was really hopeful and positive. Then I had a tougher day in the slalom but it still feels good.”

Vonn was last out of the starting gate in the afternoon session after posting the fastest time in her signature downhill and the stage was set for the 33-year-old to deliver a miracle gold in her Olympic swansong as light snowflakes began to fall at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.

But the American straddled a gate about 10 seconds into her run and went off the course, sealing the gold for Gizin, who was in third position after the downhill with a 1.22 sec advantage over Shiffrin.

For Gisin, whose elder sister Dominique won downhill gold in Sochi, the run of her life came at the most opportune time.

“It’s amazing to be on the podium with two such amazing skiers and I knew I will have to show the slalom of my life yet to have a chance to get that medal and to get that gold medal,” the 24-year-old Swiss said. “I’m just so excited that I found my run. I’ve been looking for that run the whole season and it came at just the perfect moment.”

Holdener used the fastest slalom run of the day to climb from 10th position after the downhill to win the bronze in a time of 2 min, 22.34 sec.

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